How Do Footballers Fly? From Charter Flights To Private Jets

Being a famous footballer in Europe and South America attracts a lot of attention from the general public. With this in mind, we thought we would take a look and see how some of the world’s biggest stars get around, from private charters to having their very own jets.

Cristiano Ronaldo owns a GulfstreamG650
Cristiano Ronaldo owns a $65 million Gulfstream G650. Photo: Gulfstream

No matter how big the club is, they all want their players to live no more than an hour’s drive from the stadium so that they can get to the training ground on time. This also applies to home games where they are usually sequestered in private quarters, or in the case of an away game at a hotel near to the stadium where they will be playing.

Football teams only charter planes when the drive is too long

Using the English Premier League as an example, most of the bigger clubs are quite close to each other, which means less than a four-hour drive between, for example, Manchester and London.

For these journeys, the preferred mode of transport is a team bus, taking the players to the away city a day before the match.

Barcelona legend Lionel Messi owns an Embraer Legacy 650. Photo: Anna Zvereva Wikimedia Commons

If the journey time is more than four hours, such as Liverpool to Norwich, the team would charter a passenger jet.

For European matches like the Champions and UEFA League, teams will always charter a plane and fly together. The same rule applies about arriving a day early and staying in a hotel overnight before the match.

Once the game is over, the team will take a team bus to the airport and travel on the chartered jet back home.

The Munich Air Disaster

While it is important to keep the team together, there is a downside as well. This was painfully apparent in the crash of British European Airways Flight 609.

Manchester United, who were arguably the best team of the day in 1958, had just eliminated Serbia’s Red Star Belgrade from the European Cup. With Belgrade being too far of a distance for the twin-piston engine Airspeed AS.57 Ambassador to fly non-stop, the plan was to land in Munich and refuel.

1958 Munich Air Disaster
23 of 44 passengers died in the Munich Air Disaster. Photo: Fotofuzzy1 Wikimedia Commons

Once the plane had taken on fuel the pilots attempted to take off twice, but abandoned the attempt due to a surge in the left engine.

By now the snow was falling and starting to form a layer of slush at the end of the runway. After having rejected to chance to stay overnight in Munich, the pilots attempted to take off a third time.

Once the plane hit the slush, it careered through a fence and hit a house, killing 23 of the 44 passengers on board. To this day, this remains a day that Manchester United fans mourn every February 6th.

When do football players fly in private jets?

The only time top players will travel by private jet is when they are playing international matches for their national teams. A good example of this is Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino, Alisson Becker and Fabinho who all represent Brazil internationally.

For Liverpool to get the players back home in time for the following week’s domestic feature, they will charter a private jet to fly them back across the Atlantic.

Another time teams will charter a private aircraft is during the summer and winter transfer seasons. During the transfer season, clubs arrange for prospective new players to arrive for a medical and, if all is well, to sign a contract.

Embraer Phenom 100
Paris Saint Germain forward Neymar owns an Embraer Phenom 100. Photo: Alan Lebeda Wikipedia

Some of the world’s top players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar Junior make millions of dollars a year. Once they have the big mansion and a garage full of Ferraris what do they buy next, but their own private planes and a pilot and crew to take them where ever they want to go.

Of all the football players who own private jets, no one comes close to 33-year-old Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo.

Having grown up in a poor home in Madeira, the Italian Serie A star now owns a $65 million Gulfstream G650 private jet, a plane that he uses to fly around the world when not playing football.

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